The IPL season is on and cricket fever appears to be as infectious as the corona, albeit less dangerous, affecting people across age and gender. Talking about cricket at this time may be quite appropriate. Not just the commerce, the excitement, the charm, the emotion and the drama, but a lot more can be said and written.
From the gentleman’s game to a gladiator sport cricket has come a long way. What started as a pastime for English aristocracy has now become a means of global engagement, with not just the gentlemen but even the ladies becoming equally hooked. And in the course of this transformation there are many lessons that can be learnt. Lessons on life, on chance, on luck, on motivation and of course on human potential. It is no longer about the two umpires who used to err at times, but also about the third umpire whose judgement is final.
A lot has happened on the field and beyond ever since the game was first played. While the history is long, the mystery that it unravels is even bigger. There was a time when transistors were the only source of getting a ball-by-ball account. And yes, the commentary was a treat to listen to, offering many lessons on language and literature. Commentators excelled in the art of communication and could build an excitement that would make even the Bollywood movies look ordinary.
Let us then talk cricket.
There was a time when only test matches were played and 200 to 215 odd runs by a batting side was the norm. Anything more was an exception. But then came Kerry Packer, a marketer, on the scene. And the game changed forever. Initially the limited-over format would see a batting side score around 225 to 230 runs. Anything more was a high score. The mathematics was 450 to 460 runs in a day. But this was the beginning. Some tweaking in style and even 400 per side was not enough. It was now 800 runs in a day. In fact, single batsmen would score double centuries.
Then came the T20. Look what it has done to cricket. 200 runs in 20 overs. And to understand the way it is played just the recent IPL match between KKR and Gujarat Tigers is a pointer. 205 was the target for KKR. The score read 176/7 in 19 overs, 29 runs to be scored in the last over. A hopeless case for most observers. A tailender is to face the pace bowler. He manages a single that brings Rinku Singh on the strike. And then cricket unfolds. A rarely hit six over the extra cover and the commentator, who praises the effort finds it not enough for the winning cause. The other commentator, however, says stranger things have happened. And then comes the second six. And then the third and the fourth and the fifth. The match is over. But cricket is on. The game of glorious uncertainties at its best.
You need wit and grit. And,of course luck, a bit. But luck has always been the factor X in life. Even our very consistent Sunil Gavaskar wrote in Sunny Days that had he not got those two chances in his first innings, things would have been different. But luck apart, cricket is also about temperament and persistence. You can win, rightly has someone said that impossible is in the dictionary of the fools. The adage is right, at least for cricket as the match is not over till the last ball is bowled.